Planning Panel OKs Off-Site View Corridor—$1 Million Gift Promised
• Third Change of Location (and Money) May Be the Charm
BY BILL KOENEKER
BY BILL KOENEKER
Another change of location for an off-site view corridor—this time on Big Rock Beach—and a promise of a $1 million donation for Legacy Park swayed opponents and the Malibu Planning Commission last week when the co-founder of the Hard Rock Cafe empire, Peter Morton, got approval for the complicated scheme that requires a Local Coastal Program amendment, approval by the city council and the California Coastal Commission.
Various neighbors from La Costa and Las Flores beaches, over the months, had complained and signed petitions when Morton sought to demolish a house at Las Flores Beach and, before that, an existing residence on La Costa Beach to comply with the conditions for a view corridor required by the CCC for his permit to build a mansion on Carbon Beach.
Currently, the city’s Local Coastal Program does not allow offsite view corridor mitigation, thus the need for an amendment.
Morton, explaining the million-dollar gift to the city for Legacy Park, said, as a longtime resident of Malibu, he is a supporter of environmental protection. “This will provide significant benefit to the city’s residents and visitors,” he told the commission.
Neighbors up and down the coastline, where Morton had floated his idea about demolishing a house and turning it into a view corridor, decried the idea of Morton shifting his obligations from his Carbon Beach home onto another beachfront community until he offered to do the same on Big Rock Beach near a public viewing area called Vista Point, a view corridor established by the state.
“This amendment would lessen the effect of the special condition providing for on-site view protection and cannot [be] justified by any material change in conditions. It would set a very poor precedent for those that accept conditions in order to obtain a [permit] and then attempt to evade the conditions upon which a [permit] is based,” the petition had stated.
“The possible availability of public views in other locations along the California coast does not justify Mr. Morton’s attempt to limit public views from his property, where public views were diminished by his extensive construction,” the petition added. But that viewpoint changed at last week’s planning commission meeting.
The planning panel is charged with making a recommendation about the LCPA, which must be approved by the city council and subsequently by the California Coastal Commission.
Attorney Alan Block, who was hired by one opposing homeowner and had helped spearhead the residents’ opposition, now told the commission the current arrangement could be supported. Other beachfront residents agreed.
There was reluctance on the part of some commissioners. “I am envisioning a future where the wealthiest on Carbon Beach are wall to wall and everything else is torn down. We will start losing the less magnificent portion and end up with a Chinese wall,” said Commissioner Jeff Jennings. “It is like the billionaires against the millionaires.”
Commissioner John Mazza, who acknowledged Morton’s generosity, said he wanted to narrow down the scope of the LCPA so that it would be considered special or unusual circumstances.
Mazza said he could support the request by placing restrictions, requirements and conditions on the permit, including that the property to be used for a view corridor must be adjacent to public land.
House said she was hesitant about the matter and questioned why the view corridor requirement and other conditions imposed by the Coastal Commission were not met.
Morton was also seeking an after-the-fact permit for an as-built, front yard, solid concrete wall topped with wood screen and two side yard gates and modifications to the previously approved landscape plan.
House ultimately voted against the commission’s resolution despite the many conditions placed on the application.
“I see it as a stand-alone LCP amendment without your name on it. It is tainted. If the intention is good government, it might not be the lot you provided,” House said.
In other action, the commission approved an application for a conditional use permit to allow the re-opening of the pre-existing, 1639-square-foot gasoline service station and convenience market located at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Webb Way. The existing station, which was built in 1957, halted operations over two years ago. Ben Poulder, of Malibu Petroleum, Inc. the applicant, who was not able to prove that a CUP had ever been issued, sought the entitlements.
No new development is proposed. Previously, 12 gasoline pumps operated onsite under a 16-foot high canopy along with a 358-square-foot convenience market with two public restrooms and three service bays.
Plans call for operating the market and gasoline pumps 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service bays will operate between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
A majority of the commission also agreed to schedule a full hearing for a new wastewater system for Malibu Country Mart instead of allowing it to proceed as an administrative permit which requires no hearing.